National Traffic


Traffic Officers started patrolling motorways in the South East when they went live in Surrey in August 2005. The service was further extended to include Kent in January 2006 - a year ago - and has since then started patrols in Hampshire ( June 2006 ).

The service aims to make journeys safer, keep traffic moving and ensure motorists are kept informed of traffic conditions. They have taken over many of the roles traditionally carried out by the police and in so doing, have relieved the police so they can focus on their core function - combating crime.

Media Newswire

this article was WRITTEN in 2003!Traffic Officer ORIGINS (2003)

Let's go back in time to : 20 Jun 2003

For the first time uniformed Highways Agency traffic officers will patrol Britain's motorways twenty-four hours a day. They will be given new powers to deal with traffic diversions, incident management and ensuring the roads are running smoothly under radical plans launched today by Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling.

The plans, developed jointly with the Association of Chief Police Officers, mean that from 2004, the Highways Agency will have a more active role in managing strategic roads - taking on some traffic management duties from the police.

Under the new plans:

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Alistair Darling, Transport Secretary said:

'These new traffic officers will be on motorway patrol 24 hours a day. They will deal with problems, respond to accidents quickly and will have the powers to take whatever action is necessary to keep traffic flowing.

'Currently 42 individual police forces manage traffic on our roads - taking up valuable police time on traffic management. By simplifying traffic management arrangements - we can take a more strategic and coordinated view of congestion across the network.

'This will free up police time for law enforcement and ensure motorists are given the best possible traffic information so that time stuck in jams is kept to a minimum.'

this article was WRITTEN in 2003! Home Secretary, David Blunkett, said:

'I fully support the transfer of road traffic management duties to the Highways Agency. This will free up police officers' time to concentrate on tackling serious crime and anti-social behaviour, while ensuring that they retain responsibility for enforcing traffic laws and investigating road accidents.

'Extending the role of the Highways Agency has been carried out in close consultation with the police service. It supports the Government's police reform programme by making the best use of civilians to carry out tasks that do not require the powers and skills of trained officers.

'It will strengthen the partnership between traffic officers and police officers to ensure better management of roads, reduced congestion and improved responses to incidents.'

Stephen Green, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said:

'By working in partnership with the Highways Agency, we can bring greater benefits to motorists and allow the police to focus on their core responsibilities.

'Currently a significant amount of police time is spent managing traffic on the road network. By releasing police officers from traffic duties, they will be able to spend more time and resources dealing with crime. In total, these new plans will free up the equivalent of £20m each year - the work of 540 police officers.'

Above article is from way back in time >> : 20 Jun 2003


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the duties of traffic officers circa 2004

view the entire article posted by skinner in March 2007

22 Apr 2004 : Column GC5

3.30 p.m.

Viscount Goschen: Will the Minister say what efforts the Government will make to educate the motorist about the powers of these new officers? A number of members of the Committee warned on Second Reading against a dilution of the instant recognisability and authority of the police, such as the blue light, and a number of other types of officer, such as community support officers, being seen in uniform. I am not clear about the powers of a community support officer who wants to search an individual. Is the individual obliged to undergo such a search?

We know that these officers will be using a red light. Will motorists have to yield to a vehicle with a red light? We all know, as motorists, that we have to yield to vehicles with a blue light, be they ambulances, fire engines or police cars. If there is a vehicle with a blue light repeatedly flashing, the motorist must pull over. Will that be the case with red lights? How will the motorist know what to do?

Baroness Scott of Needham Market: While the Minister is answering that, I have a question of my own. I declare an interest as chair of the Local Government Association Transport Executive. My point concerns recognisability and public perception. While it is very clear in the public mind that a motorway is a motorway, and that is one kind of road on which such officers will operate, it is much more difficult in the case of trunk roads. Some of them are under local authority control because of recent detrunking arrangements, and some will remain under the control of the Highways Agency. So it will be perfectly normal to have two very similar roads in one area: one, under Highways Agency control, will have the officers, and the other will not. That may add to confusion in the mind of the public.

Viscount Simon: May I ask a further question on rear-facing lights which are red? At the moment, as these officers are not police officers, they will not have to be obeyed. My understanding is that some time in the future it is proposed that these so-called traffic officers will have rear-facing blue lights. Legislation will have to be introduced because they are still not police officers.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I think I can give a categoric response to the contribution from my noble friend. There is no intention that they will have blue lights because, as a number of noble Lords have pointed out, a blue light, particularly one flashing in one's rear mirror, indicates one proper authority to which we are all used to responding—but not too often, I hope.

Traffic officers will not be involved in pursuit, nor in monitoring traffic which is moving, so there is no question of their light flashing, to motorists' concern, in their rear-view mirror. The traffic officer is there to give warning of problems ahead. They do not have powers of arrest, so they will not go in pursuit of anyone who may contravene traffic regulations in relationship to their work. That is done by police officers and only by police officers.

view the entire article posted by skinner in March 2007

May 29, 2007

Managing an end to gridlock

If you've ever been stuck in a motorway tailback, you've probably cursed whoever is responsible


IF YOU’VE ever been stuck in a motorway tailback, you probably cursed whoever is responsible. The problem is that – until fairly recently – there has been no single authority on which to focus your wrath.

The Highways Agency (HA), which manages England’s motorways, is traditionally responsible for building roads rather than the day-to-day running of the network, so the job of clearing up breakdowns and crashes has typically fallen to the police.

Given that the police tend to have more pressing concerns, such as fighting crime, it is little wonder that motorway congestion has been getting worse.

But in 2002, PA Consulting Group (PA) was brought in to advise on the problem. A single consultant was dispatched to liaise with representatives from the HA and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo). What resulted was the biggest change to traffic management in England for more than ten years.

“We found that minor breakdowns and accidents were being dealt with by the police simply because they were the only ones there,” says Adrian Gains, PA’s original consultant on the project. “So we helped to broker a deal where the HA would take on more traffic-management roles, freeing the police up to concentrate on reducing crime – with the two groups working together to improve road safety.

“Our role was to review how that change would be made, to examine who did what and ultimately to advise on how the division of responsibilities could be beneficially changed.”

This was no easy task. At the time, the HA was staffed by office-based civil servants working traditional nine-to-five days. The new service would involve traffic officers working directly with the public and operating around the clock. There were also 39 different police forces with which to coordinate.

This was no easy task. At the time, the HA was staffed by office-based civil servants working traditional nine-to-five days. The new service would involve traffic officers working directly with the public and operating around the clock. There were also 39 different police forces with which to coordinate.

“This was a huge cultural shift for the Highways Agency,” Gains says. “It had to make the transition from being primarily a procurement organisation to being an opera-tional organisation available 24/7. It involved an 80 per cent increase in headcount, the building of seven regional control centres and the training of about 1,500 staff.”

According to Robert Castleman, divisional director of technology at the HA, change on this scale could not have been achieved without PA’s ex-pertise. “PA had a lot of experience working in both the public sector and change management; this was crucial because it was such a vast change for the HA,” he says.

Nevertheless, even during the project’s busiest periods, there were never more than seven or eight consultants involved, with the bulk of the transformation being carried out by the HA or the police themselves.

“It wasn’t really like a client-consultant-type relationship,” Castleman says. “Right from the start we adopted a team approach in which the HA, ACPO and PA were all working towards a common goal.”

Rodney Brown, the Acpo co-ordinator on the project, agrees. “This was very much a tripartite approach where Acpo, the HA and PA complemented each other very well in terms of the skill sets we each brought to the project,” he says.

The new service was initially piloted in the West Midlands, where early results suggest an improvement in response times, clearance times and congestion. Now that the scheme has been rolled out nationally, the HA estimates that it will produce benefits to congestion worth £100 million a year.

The police appear to be benefiting from the new system as well; for example, in one region, the number of arrests made on the motorway doubled in the first year and is still rising.

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